Day Trip To The English Countryside

Last Friday I was lucky to be invited out to Hartley Farms, near my company’s Morristown, NJ offices, to meet with owner Nic Platt and view one of his fields as a possible location for our company picnic.

Nic and I both work for the same company, though he works in the Manhattan office and while we’ve spoken a couple of times at company events, I didn’t know that much about his background. Knowing that our shop is located in his ‘backyard’ though, he very graciously offered his “field” for our annual office party, and on a sunny day I was only too happy to shoot out there and take a look.  I didn’t have any expectations, but my curiosity was piqued when his directions included phrases like “turn in at the stone fence…follow Hartley Drive all the way around, past the Polo Field…I’ll meet you by the museum building near the forest”.

Typical English New Jersey

It turns out that Nic is a descendent of Marcellus & Geraldine Rockefeller Dodge (NPR & PBS fans will recognize Mrs. Dodge from the ‘Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation’ sponsorship), and that Hartley Farms is on the National Register of Historic Places. Back in the day (1927-1957) the Dodge’s would host the Morris & Essex Dog Show, when almost 50,000 folks would encamp for the day on the Polo field and take in the dogs and the stunning countryside.

It was a gorgeous day, and just the prettiest place I’ve ever been at with #217 – and to top it all off, there was a solitary English phone booth perched on the edge of the field, like something out of Dr. Who.

I was enchanted by the scene, but also feeling a bit out of my league – old money, an English-style estate, houses with names and a polo field that can fit 50,000+, etc. I half expected Nic to pull up in a chaffeured Rolls with a liveried driver. Instead, he rolls up in a Prius, and couldn’t have been more welcoming. Turns out the entire estate is run on “Green” principles (LED lighting, homes that are built in harmony with nature, old-growth forests administered by the Audubon Society), and he enthusiastically asked about the MINI E program and my experiences with the car.

It was such an unexpected pleasure to find yet another kindred spirit – especially in such an impressive setting. More info on Hartley Farms can be found here –   (and, needless to say, we’ll be having the party there later this month).


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